So what are the most successful sales professionals doing to overcome the challenges of an industry that is seeing margins squeezed more than ever before?
Although technical innovation, value, efficiency and service are all important considerations for contractors and large corporations when they are looking for new or upgraded heating systems, cost is where the conversation starts.
Once a sales consultant has a clear idea of the project brief he or she will often be expected to return with the best price right at the start, in what has become almost a sealed bid situation.
This means sales consultants have had to change the way they negotiate, going in with their lowest price first. What this means is that it’s more important than ever before that project specifications and budgets are thoroughly understood and adhered to.
In such a competitive market, sales consultants who keep in regular contact with the client or contractor during the tendering process will be more likely to be able to respond when amendments are made to the original brief.
Those changes are being made with far greater frequency as contractors struggle to safeguard their margins in a competitive market.
Value engineering (VE) clauses, for instance, can mean that even when you think a deal’s in the bag, it may not be. If the contractor can find something that does the job just as well for less money there may be small print that lets them switch to another supplier even when initial prices have been agreed.
Maintenance and Service
It’s certainly true that some manufacturers will slash their prices to win market share but it’s also true that there is room out there for a quality product with a decent warranty and readily available servicing. Many large organisations and government building projects will still be won on quality, durability and reliability over price. Major capital investment needs to be guaranteed for the long term and these clients will be looking for reputable manufacturers and products which will last for a decade or more with parts and service readily available.
Even contractors, who have traditionally gone for the cheapest product in the knowledge that they will be walking away from the site at the end of their 12 month warranty period, are now competing on service. Some larger contractors are asking for quotes that include five year servicing so that they can offer added value to their own costings.
This is good news for quality suppliers and presents an excellent opportunity for established players that can offer servicing and extended warranties.